Archive for Scams, Spam and Skullduggery

Scam Surfing

I’m a scam junky. I can spend hours reading about scams online and, I’ll be honest, very few of them offer anything new to the game. The bulk seem to center around greed and social engineering, and some basic precautions would seem adequate to defeat the vast majority of them.

While surfing for scams I came across this posting on Craigslist, and it caused me to snork my morning coffee. Hoping it’ll give you a moments levity, I’ll share it with you;

Credit Card Scam – Be Very Careful!

I got nailed by this scam last weekend and it still hurts.

Someone will approach you pretending to be your “loving wife” complete with gratuitous sex and your favourite snack. She will then subtly ask if you have a balance on your credit card. This is where you MUST answer “Yes, it’s completely maxed out”, otherwise she will cleverly slip it from your wallet while pretending to enjoy fondling your coconuts. Later that day, while you rest comfortably on the couch remote in hand, your card will be used to purchase half a dozen ridiculously overpriced “sale” items. The scam is so diabolical it resists any recourse by the presentation of one small gift, purchased with your card of course, special for you only. Your “loving wife” will then revert back to “moody hag” and disappear to wherever it is they go while you’re in the house.

On a happy note, I really like my new Steelers hat, it keeps my head quite dry during my new part time job collecting shopping carts at Superstore.

Source: Craigslist

You’ve been warned.

Fell off the back of a truck? Not likely…

You’re approached in a parking lot by two guys who have the “Deal of a Lifetime” for you, through some clerical/computer/staff error they have too many expensive consumer electronics items, and they’re willing to sell them to you at a MASSIVE discount, cash right now and they’re all yours!

If this doesn’t send up red flags with you then you’re in danger of buying a bridge or swampland in the near future (in fact I’ve some to sell, just send me an email and we’ll work out the details).

..i was with my friend driving out of the parking lot and all in the sudden a couple pull us over. i thought he was asking for directions but he end out asking me if i want a high quality home threater system. he told me that he works for a well known company show me some flyers and show me his product that he got it for extra that he has to get rid of before returning back to his company and getting nothing so he asked me 2000 dollars for it. at that time i just saw the goddamn brand!!! never heard of it and i saw the bar coded labelling the MSP at $4799…

Even if what the scammer was saying was true you’re buying stolen property.

..welll i asked him 3 bills thats all i got however he tries to persuade me to get as much as possible 350 dollars. as a matter of fact that i was a really good price for a 5ks home threater system so i tell him 300 bills and i give him a pack of cigarretes he unload the boxes into my car..as soonest that i got home i told all my friends about my big deal and that i hit the jackpot and today was my lucky day i was planning to buy 2 of them but i didnt have enoff money and resell them for at least 1000 dollars…
Source: Ripoffreport.com – Genesis Media Labs

This scam is becoming more and more popular, but has all the classic elements that SHOULD set of warning bells for a consumer;

  1. An AMAZING deal.
  2. Immediate transaction
  3. Cash, now.

It seems the newest element of the scam is the documentation that the scammers bring with them, nothing too complicated. A few invoices showing a staggering price for the components, some glossy promotional literature and newest of all is the website showing the MSRP for these systems (although checking this website I’d expect a contact phone number of some kind if I paid $5000 for a sound system).

In short (too late), as the old saying goes, if it apears too good to be true, it is.

Pyramids, Ponzis and Cults….oh my.

Back in ’98 I was asked to attend a meeting with some people that had a “business opportunity” for me. Normally I’d give a sarcastic comment or two and skip the entire event, but on this occasion I was being asked by my mother. For the record, my mother is not a stupid woman, and she has consistently gone above and beyond helping me out time and again. I honestly felt I couldn’t refuse such a simple request. And so I went.

You guessed it. It was Amway / Quixtar.

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Contract Killer Spam?

Sophos has issued a press release dealing with a new variation on the type of spam we can expect to see arriving in our inboxes. Thats right, it’s Professional Killer Death Threat Spam.

No Seriously;

contract killer spam email
(Sample “Contract Killer Spam” from Sophos.com)

Normally this sort of thing would, at worst, cause me to risk accidentally inhaling my morning coffee due to laughter. However I’ve spent the last few days casually surfing through the Rip-Off Report and was amazed at the number of phishing, advance fee scams and similar efforts that actually seemed to hit the mark.

Are the bulk of us that stupid?

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Spammers on no-doze…

Over the last 24 hours I have received an unprecedented deluge of comment spam. I stopped counting at 350, and by then had already made efforts to close the comments on any posts older than one month (something I should have done ages ago, but the comment spam problem really hadn’t been a big issue up until now).

This time the spam came in using three different URLs per comment in an half-hearted effort to cloak their identity. The first is in the URL field which pointed to one of their online gambling, viagra or what have you sites. The second was in the text of the message, which pointed to legitimate blogs or blog entries, and the third was a hyperlink immediately following the second which pointed at another spam site.

I’ll end up experimenting with some more blacklist packages at work tonight (when I’ve finished the long overdue zombie reviews I have – Thats five movies pending right now), and hopefully the closed comments will keep the spam to tolerable levels until I get our defences sorted out.

Good times…

Nigerian Scam – Product Order

Scammer spam has been flooding my Jim Kirk addresses since the first scam correspondence took place. This one is shaping up to be entertaining, although they’ve yet to make the specific pitch, I suspect this is an effort to obtain goods with forged cheques.

Scammer Email #1
From: “shember mclama” (email removed)
Subject: products inquiries
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 2005 10:18:26 +0700

Dear Customer Service, We shall be glad to know the products avaliable and forward product costing prices or website to view, and those goods shall be forwarded to lagos, nigeria.By Courier Service. We will also like to know in which of your prefered terms of payment as we specified our desire terms(major credit card, Money order drawn in US currency and cashier check drawn in US currency) I look forward to your respond soon.

Regards.
MclamaSales/Product Manager

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Nigerian Scam – Inheritance

The Nigerian Scam should, by now, be well known to pretty much anyone using the internet. In essence, the scam is used to convince victims that they need to lay out some money to facilitate the transfer of a great sum to them. The victim, in the meantime, has provided the scammers with all sorts of information that they can sell, even if the scam is unsuccessfull.

There’s really no way to beat the scam, except perhaps to waste their time and to provide completely bogus information (which is exactly what I am doing).

The scam is usually conducted by email, and I was a little curious when I found this comment in my blogs moderation queue (bloggers are supposed to be reasonably net savvy, and shouldn’t be easy marks for this scam…theoretically).

The original message:
FROM:BARRISTER JOHNSON CREEK
JOHNSON CREEK AND ASSOCIATES
JOHNSON CREEK & A. CHAMBERS.
22B PEDRO WAY GBAGADA CRESCENT,
LAGOS — NIGERIA.
E-MAIL:XXX@yahoo.com

Attn: President,

I am Barrister Johnson Creek a solicitor at law. And I am the personal attorney to late Mr. Richard Dufour a national of your country, who used to work with Chevron Oil Company in Nigeria. Here in after shall be referred to as my client. On the 21st of April 1999,My client late Mr. Richard Dufour and his family was involved in plane crash in Lagos, 95 people were burnt to death unfortunately my client late Mr. Richard Dufour and his family lost their lives.

Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives this has also prove unsuccessful. After these several unsuccessful attempts, to locate any member of his family hence I contacted you, I am contacting you to assist in prepatriating the money and property left behind by my client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable to the bank where this huge deposit were lodged. Particularly,the finance company where the deceased had an account valued at about USD14.7 million dollars has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated within the next few official working days.

Since I have been unsuccessful in locating the relatives for over 3 years now I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you have the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account valued at USD14.7 million dollars can be paid to you, and then you and i can share the money.60% to me and 40% to you I have all necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make. All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this deal through.

I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. Please get in touch with me and send to me your telephone and fax numbers to enable us discuss further about this transaction. Please if you are interested, kindly, send me your urgent response to my private e-mail:
XXX@yahoo.com.

Until then God bless You.

Best regards,

Barrister Johnson Creek.

I’ve played this game before, and my personal record is 15 exhanges of emails before the scammer(s) gave up trying to get my money (or coherent information for that matter).

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Wow…that’s alot of scam victims…

What’s been interesting about playing with my Nigerian scammer is the information I’ve come across during research. Typically I’ve done what most other people do when they receive a scam email, and just delete it or flag it as spam. I’ve rarely (recently anyway) taken the time to correspond with these people and actually get to the pitch where they try to involve me in the scam.

I my reading I came across the Nigerian Police: Online Discussion Forum, a series of threads dealing with the various scams, and hosted by the Nigerian Police website (although it does not actually seem to be monitored in any way shape or form by them).

Through this discussion forum I’ve found that the newest scam being conducted by these guys seems to target lonely North Americans and Europeans looking for romance. It seems the scammer engages the victim in a correspondence, and at some point the scammer professes either an attraction or interest in the victim, stating they are planning to move to the victims country/city. With this goal they send the victim a US postal money order/Travellers cheque/Bank draft and ask the victim to cash the money and hold it for their arrival. Shortly after the money arrives the scammer insists circumstances have changed (personal emergency) and asks that the victim send the money back via Western Union immediately.

The victim does this, and naturally a week or two later their bank sends them a notice that the postal order/travellers cheque/bank draft was a forgery, and they are responsible for the funds withdrawn. The scammer already has the money in hand, and the victim is left with the bill (and possible prosecution for fraud).

Now this one interested me…. I definately wanted to get a first hand look at the forgeries (which according to the victims are VERY convincing), and trolling the forum I found a number of the scammers yahoo IDs. On spec I sent generic emails to a few of the ID’s (recently listed ones) under my jtkirk account.

There have already been a few responses, and I’ll post the results if things develop… this could make for an interesting hobby….